Then—like today—tens of thousands of non-English-speaking, culturally diverse, immigrant children from the poorest socioeconomic groups flooded the schools. Under the pressure of this increased population, the factory-model school was born. It survives to this day and is the reviled object of educational reformers, philosophers, and business-people alike. All of us want to end top-down, bureaucratic management, standardized testing as the only measurement of productivity, the teacher as lecturer, and inflexible union rules.
THE EDUCATION OF RICHARD RILEY By Robert Archer, Ed.D.
We want the new way of doing business introduced to our schools. A few educators disagree. They are rallying for a back-to-basics approach. Others are overwhelmed by the demands that the new socialization puts on us: How do we maintain the civil society that business needs in order to function? What curriculum changes can we make to prevent kids from killing one another?
What conflict resolution and peer mediation programs? What family living and socialization texts should we use? What school restructuring? And what is the role of business in all this?
Letter from the Editor
Education always requires complex answers. However, there are a few specific, fairly simple ideas for business to follow: keep people employed; support higher salaries for urban teachers; improve the education of prospective teachers; direct the bulk of available resources into classrooms; support the continuous education of working teachers; help recruit the best possible school principals; and, finally, learn from the schools that have successfully combined vocational-technical education with academics.
As James Brian Quinn points out, employees of tomorrow will need to know customers and understand software, machines, protocols, and telecom equipment. Do I think that the private sector should be involved in education? Wrong question. The only question is how. For the Panasonic Foundation, however, the issue is not whether or not business needs a workforce that is educated in a different way than it was in the past.
Rather, the issue is one of equity: who has access to the good schools? Certainly, disadvantaged children have the same rights as advantaged children to the best education that the system has to offer. Rather, the issue is one of equity: Who has access to the good schools?
In addition, the program aims at restructuring whole schools, not just isolated aspects, so that no child falls through the cracks. Unlike many other reform efforts, however, the Partnership Program is as much focused on the redesign of an entire school system—be it a school district or state department of education.
After all, only when policies governing schools are changed, and districts and education departments transform themselves from bureaucracies that control and impede into systems that actively nurture and facilitate school-level reform, will good schools become the rule rather than the exception. This kind of change takes time, money, and ideas and information about how to change—not to mention help with the change process itself.
With that in mind, the Partnership Program provides direct technical assistance, rather than grants, to its partner systems and the schools in them in order to increase the capacity of adults in the system to conceive, plan, and implement their own improvement efforts. And the program commits the Panasonic Foundation to a long-term, five-to-ten year partnership with school systems—a long enough period, one hopes, to institutionalize the culture of ongoing reform at every level of the system.
Bruce S. Although he grasps the troubles in our cities, the poor performance of our students, and the need for modernization, Avishai ignores three critical conditions confounding the innovations that he prefers.
Putting Democracy Back into Public Education
First, he overlooks the social context of schooling. The breakup of family and the breakdown of community, together, adversely affect the ability of children to learn. Try introducing a new computerized mathematics program into a system where teachers work in isolated classrooms, away from other colleagues, and have little or no time to share with and support one another. And third, public education is a public monopoly and thus has hardly any incentive to innovate at all. Public education was until recently insulated from pressures to compete, change, and improve. Avishai and other reformers should consider many kinds of schools: public magnet schools of choice , private, and parochial.
The problem is moral, not technical. For 75 years, critics of schools have concentrated on the technical side of the problem, for example, the use of space, time, and technology.
In fact, the failure of urban schools mostly results from a breakdown of the moral order, including family, community, church, and school. Many of these children from single-parent homes arrive at school ill-prepared. Avishai seems unaware of the need for social stability in order to make innovations work. How, one wonders, will advanced methods operate in schools, communities, and families that are in chaos?
And for some reason, his solutions concentrate almost exclusively on public education, while private and parochial schools seem to work because of their high social capital, strict rules of conduct, and fundamental stability—conditions that are prevalent in traditional homes and communities. School structures resist change. Urban school systems are difficult to change because they are such complex organizations. Pupils and their classes are usually divided by age, grade, ability, needs, subjects, interests, and location—reflecting the ideology of the very bureaucracies that Avishai predicts are vanishing.
However, while new business enterprises are undergoing a revolution, many schools are not, and their structure is greatly to blame for their inability to change. Public monopolies resist change. Why, one wonders, would public school teachers and administrators even attempt all these radical changes? Adam Smith, of all people, would understand the limits of public monopolies. Without real competition, agencies have no incentive to change procedures, merge and alter roles, and update, much less eliminate, divisions of labor.
Visits to school classrooms are informative.
One finds a few old, often useless computers thrown in a corner, and students sitting and staring at teachers, not processing at computers. Learning is didactic, not interactive. As everyone becomes a lifelong learner, education is indeed critical. But what should business do? It makes little sense, as Adam Smith himself would warn, to have private corporations invest exclusively in public school monopolies. Instead, business should make a compact, first, to see that public, private, and parochial schools are available for the inner-city poor.
Second, businesses should extend the compact to help the education of children, not to bankroll more overhead. Third, businesses should concentrate on reforms that improve the structure of individual schools, much as business itself is being reorganized. After all, if public schools themselves are dull, repetitive places, how can education inspire students, much less help business? Otherwise, we are all in trouble. Bernard Avishai identifies unemployability as the most crippling problem facing the United States. However, he is too quick to define a narrow solution in which businesses assume responsibility both for restructuring schools and for establishing alternative educational opportunities.
It is no secret that companies have become increasingly involved in supporting the improvement and reform of elementary and secondary schools. The Council for Aid to Education has traced this growing corporate interest in public education from near indifference in the early s to a strong investment in the s of time, commitment, and knowledge. Business does not currently have primary responsibility for education in the United States, nor, I would argue, should it.
The responsibility for providing young people with the foundation of skills and knowledge they need for careers and work rests with the education system. When Avishai argues that public education be transformed through a network of instructional options offered by business, he is proposing, in effect, that we dismantle an existing powerful and cohesive force in this society.
In addition, it is interesting to note that at the same time he proposes we fragment schooling among a kaleidoscope of entrepreneurial activities, he also echoes the call for standards and other measures that require both conformity and accountability.
- How Do I Find...??
- SHOWDOWN TRAIL: A Novel of Wagon Train Days;
- Richard W. Riley Oral History | Miller Center.
- The Role of Public Education in Supporting American Democracy;
- VIAGGIO NEI MISTERI DELLA BRIANZA TEMPLARE ED ESOTERICA (Italian Edition);
- The Spear of Crom!
The issues of school choice and educational reform are among the most hotly debated socio-political topics of the decade. Harry Brighouse's book, School Choice and Social Justice , addresses these issues within the context of social justice. In this mostly philosophical book, Brighouse offers an overview of liberal and conservative arguments both for and against school choice. Brighouse considers Milton Friedman's writings the seminal force behind the emergence of choice as an issue of public policy. He discusses whether educating children is a fundamental right of parents or whether education should be governed by the state.
The notion that education is a "standard public good" is also debated. Brighouse suggests that education does play a role in providing civic and social stability to society. There are several important arguments proposed against school choice including: the commodification of education; the importance of democratic control rather than private control of education; and whether educational policy should promote the collective good of the public rather than private enterprise. Two separate, existing school choice programs are reviewed. The Milwaukee Public School voucher program and the United Kingdom's Educational Reform Act of are noted for their strengths and weaknesses in offering choice in education.
Brighouse takes a mostly impartial position on the issue of school choice. However, he does suggest that the interests of children should remain at the forefront in the design of educational institutions.